In short, breastfeeding has always felt like the very best option for me and my babies. I nurse them for as long as it feels right for the both of us. A time frame that has varied with each of my children. Yet never one I let myself feel pressured by.
And as much as I appreciate what nursing has been for me, I hate to see even a shadow of judgement fall on those that choose not to. Especially on social media. I remember reading a blog years ago in which the author unveiled a long winded apology to her readers a few weeks after giving birth, confessing that she was not in fact able to breastfeed like she had hoped and preached about in the months leading up to the baby’s arrival. Reading it, I remember feeling sorry for her only due to the fact that she feared her audience would berate her in any way for that kind of personal decision. But the reality is, it happens all the time. Too often we as women make the mistake of defining ourselves in ways that divide us instead of embracing the overall notion that we are all in this together. That at the end of the day the simple fact of raising children is the tie that binds. That everybody is doing the best they can given their lot and circumstance. It’s one thing to be there for support and motivation in regards to things we might feel strongly about – if breastfeeding is one, then by all means let us share stories and advice to new mothers on the fence, offer up praise and support in place of shunning those that don’t fit whatever ideals we have molded in our own moral mother code handbooks. Because if there is one thing having a house full of children teaches you, it’s humility. So many things I use to turn my nose or scoff at when I had one child are worlds away from where I stand now. People do things differently, households find their own rhythms and for the most part, I would argue that people raised on a foundation of love have a pretty good chance at becoming well rounded, decent human beings. When you think about the people that color our lives, people we cherish and relate to, we were all raised on different ideals. Some come from working mothers, breastfed and not, some with money and some without, in homes that embrace religion and homes that don’t, some with fathers at their side and those without, on so many circumstances far outside of the ones that rooted each of us in our most formative years and somehow wind up making them the people that mean a lot to us in the end.
So yes, breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. Let’s express and share it as such. But so is motherhood in general. On the whole. Whether it includes cloth or disposable diapers, home or hospital births, bottles or breast, it’s a short and fleeting time. Let’s be sure we make the most of it with the people we are sharing it with.